New phone system for Keweenaw Cty. sheriff’s department

EAGLE RIVER – The Keweenaw County Board of Commissioners approved a phone upgrade to the sheriff’s department and courthouse at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

The upgrades were made in consideration of the sheriff’s department’s status as the backup 911 center for emergency responders in the county. The phone and radio systems will be upgraded and integrated with recording capabilities.

Sheriff Ron Lahti said the changes are a much-needed improvement.

“The phone system that we currently have, it’s an old system – it’s pretty out of date,” he said this morning. “(The new system) will tie the county and sheriff’s department together. On my side, it’s going to have a system where calls can be recorded … in a lot of cases to retrieve information, or as evidence.”

The main equipment would be quartered at the Sheriff’s Department, where it would be connected to the courthouse via an existing conduit.

The estimated cost of the upgrades is $12,993. Upgrading the sheriff’s department will cost $8,400, which will come from the county’s 911 fund. The remaining $4,593 for the courthouse will come from the general fund.

Upgrading the courthouse separately would cost an additional $2,636, said Nick Sigan, a representative of Escanaba-based Solutions Telecommunications.

Sigan said the upgrade would streamline communications for the departments. There will be training for the new system, although he said employees shouldn’t notice much difference in the way it operates.

“The way that you’re using the phones now is pretty much the same way you’ll be using the phones down the road,” he said.

Sigan said it would take about five days to get equipment in, and the system could be up and running in two weeks.

In other action, the board:

heard a report from Commissioner Ray Chase about the parks committee that a previously discussed logging operation probably won’t happen at the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge. Chase said there had been concern the logging would interfere with trails; additionally, he said, any money from the logging operation would go towards the county’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan for the KML.

also heard from Chase the county may readdress its planning and zoning regulations to allow more local variations. He used the example of two properties in Eagle River, which, despite having two separate buildings, were unable to be split into separate lots under the minimum lot size requirements.

approved appointments to the Recreation Authority: Ray Chase to summer motorized, Don Kauppi to summer and winter motorized, Marlene Dukart to summer motorized and non-motorized, Kevin Cadeau to summer motorized, and Aaron Rogers and Don Keith to summer and winter non-motorized. Chase, also a board commissioner, abstained from the vote.

tabled a charter for the county’s Economic Development Committee.

heard a report that Isle Royale National Park has no further interest in the communication tower and associated equipment at the former Calumet Air Force Station at Mt. Horace Greeley.

tabled an agreement with to license space at Mt. Horace Greeley for Internet connection services.

approved applying for a credit card for county business. The clerk and sheriff would be authorized to make purchases.

approved $400 for Keweenaw Adventure Co. to attend the Outdoor Adventure Expo in April.

supported a resolution request by Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress supporting Medicaid expansion in Michigan.